Look Hot, Pack Light: A Guide to Hair & Makeup for Adventure Elopements

Back in 2021, I had the opportunity to photograph a Scottish Highlands Vow Renewal for a couple who was traveling from the Pacific Northwest to celebrate their 10 year anniversary. Over 3 days we road tripped, hiked, and chased pockets of light amidst wind and rain from the Isle of Skye to the coasts of Kilchoan. We stayed in a castle, tried Haggis, and soaked in the beauty of the Scottish culture.

A beautiful surprise for me on this trip was meeting and getting to work alongside my now great friend, Meaghan, of Black Fern Beauty Co. She came along as Sam & Brian’s badass and adventurous Hair & Make Up “Trail Angel” and working with her opened my eyes to how deeply valuable it is to have an artist like this accompany a couple on their elopement, or in this case, vow renewal.

Meaghan was on top of everything and served as a second set of eyes for Sam and Brian to ensure all the smaller details were fully dialed in and cared for while we photographed their celebration. Being that I am not the pro when it comes to make up and hair, we felt that collaborating on some not-so-talked-about resources for elopement and wedding couples could be of huge benefit to you.

So Meaghan, take it away!

What I love about the ultralight backpacking community is that it feels like more of a philosophy instead of an arbitrary pack weight.  You just decide you can get by with less, and rely highly on your own judgment of how best to stay safe, healthy and comfortable. Trusting yourself looks great on you, by the way!

Preparation is key so let’s start with the essentials.

Your Dress

Isle of Skye Scotland Kilchoan Mingary Castle Elopement

Chances are, if you’re taking on a multi-day section hike for your adventure elopement, you’ll be packing your dress for getting ready when you discover your ceremony location.

The average wedding dress will add 7 to 11 pounds to your base-weight depending on style and material, so think light and breezy when selecting material. Another consideration is, whether or not your partner will help you get zipped in. 

If you’re aiming for that ‘first look’ moment be sure you can get yourself secured into the style you choose. In my experience, dresses do really well folded over in a cheap, lightweight garment bag that can secure over your backpack. Lightweight lace dresses can roll up into your pack really well too.

Your Hair

This will sound super counterintuitive, but hear me out.  Wash, blowdry and heat style your hair before you head out-the magic here is to generously apply dry shampoo to freshly blow dried hair.  You’re buying some time before it starts to look obviously dirty.  If you want to bring dry shampoo on trail with you, opt for a small travel size shaker jar style-not an aerosol can.

PRO TIP:  Loosely french braiding clean hair will keep its volume and add heatless wave texture.  Using claw style clips will secure your waves or curls without leaving creases or wrecking volume.

After all that work, the last thing you’ll want to do is put on a snug fitting baseball cap, so opt for other sun protection like a visor and sunnies, or a lightweight UV shirt with a loose fitting hood.

Skincare & Make Up

Let’s prep a ditty bag.  First thing, make sure we have a designated mini trash bag as we are going to be making ready-to-use disposables and LNT, always.  I know, I know.  Not ideal, but it’s worth it.

In a snack size ziploc type bag, presoak some cotton rounds with a generous amount of micellar water, and for good measure another one with a good detoxifying toner solution. This will be so key in removing your end of day dirt, sweat and sunscreen.  The cleaner your skin can be when you go to sleep at night, the better it will look as you adventure on-and not look too crusty under makeup.

Another good idea is to pack a few small individually wrapped makeup wipes.  You’ll need at least one or two to get your makeup off after your ceremony, and then follow with micellar water.

You’ll want to pack the least amount of makeup and tools possible, so I suggest really small, double ended,  travel size makeup brushes and makeup products that can multitask for you.  A small tube of concealer can be foundation when mixed or blended out with moisturizer.  Your favorite bronzer or blush can become your best eyeshadow choice.  Darker eyeshadows can be used for filling in brows or as eyeliner.  Mascara choice may vary.  Tubing mascara is the only kind guaranteed to not smudge.  That’s my go to.

PRO TIP:  Invest in a lash lift and tint ahead of your elopement to minimize the need for mascara altogether.

When You Get Home

Upon returning to civilization and on demand hot water, baby your skin.  Lots of sunscreen, makeup, sweat, dirt, and borderline criminal cleansing on trail will leave your skin in need of some extra love. A good exfoliation, and lots of moisture rich masks will return its barrier function and ease any unintentional sunburn and irritation.

PRO TIP: Treat yourself to a hydra facial when you return for some immediate repair and relief.

Good luck out there, be safe, and congratulations!

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Hey! I'm Meaghan

I’ve been a Hair and Make Up Artist for over 13 years, and since relocating to the Pacific Northwest from the Washington DC area, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve Oregon & Washington Elopement couples along their adventures together.

Robert and I met in back in 2021 while working together with a couple for their Destination Vow Renewal in Scotland (it was incredible. check it out here!) and this guide was an exciting way for us to collaborate to help more adventurous couples like you.

I’m a little glam and a little granola, and I’ve got the goods on getting you equipped to look ‘special occasion ready’, while carrying only the essentials to do it. You can find more about me and my services via my website below!